Medtech and Consumer Healthcare Companies Lack Defined Digital Strategy, Study Shows

04 December 2019

GMP News

The study, undertaken by marketing consultancy Simon-Kucher & Partners shows that 59% of pharma, medtech and consumer healthcare companies still lack a fully defined digital strategy.

Healthcare companies define their strategies using different models. In 56% of cases, a dedicated digital team defines the strategy, while in another 42%, a new or existing commercial team takes on this role.

Typically, digital health strategies are initiated by companies’ headquarters; only in rare cases do individual countries or business units act independently. Almost 90% of those surveyed say their company’s headquarters defines the strategy for all business units, and 66% report that the headquarters takes over planning for all geographic levels. However, the case that a strategy is applied at both geographical and organisational levels, only occurs to 14% of respondents who already have a defined strategy. Over half of the companies in this category see themselves as digital front runners in the industry.

Most healthcare companies with dedicated digital teams are satisfied with their defined strategies. However, they often fail to implement and apply them effectively due to a lack of resources and insufficient staffing capacity. In contrast, when integrated commercial teams take care of the issue, 5% of the companies surveyed said they were dissatisfied.

Jan Bordon, senior director at Simon-Kucher & Partners, said: “There is no one-size-fits-all solution for implementing digital strategies. It doesn’t matter whether a digital or a commercial team is responsible. In the end, the parties involved must be clear about the commercial options that new digital solutions provide. The company must ensure it has expertise on commercial market access in the digital context and make the necessary resources available with support from every department.”

No consistent investment focus

The survey also shows 70% want to improve their portfolios by introducing digital add-on services, and 38% with standalone digital offers. A further goal for half of those surveyed is the collection of customer data to expand their portfolios. A third of participants don’t concentrate on a single topic; they allocate investments evenly between different departments, such as digital marketing, products and services, and sales.

Digital products and services were cited as the main focus of investment by all participants. The reason for this is clear: Companies in the life sciences industry expect profitable outcomes from their direct and indirect products, services and solutions. Survey participants predict that 32% of their revenues will be generated through digital solutions by 2030. In the short time, this figure is expected to be 13%.

The study also shows that companies in the industry have a range of different focus points. Pharma and biotech companies make almost 14% of their investments in digital research opportunities and studies; the consumer healthcare industry allocates about one fifth of its investment budget in digital marketing; and the medtech sector’s highest priority is digital products, investing 20% in this area.

Lack of monetisation approaches

In their efforts to implement digital strategies, most companies fail to successfully monetise their solutions. 76% have difficulties defining a suitable pricing and revenue model, while over 80% lack resources. To ensure successful market entry with digital solutions, monetisation models need to be drawn up in advance; however, this isn’t being done.

Christian Schuler, senior partner at Simon-Kucher & Partners, said: “By passing the so-called Digital Supply Act [Digitale-Versorgung-Gesetz – DVG], Germany has taken an important step and may take the global lead in 2020. Digital strategies only work when their offer design is customer-focused and has a clearly defined service promise supported by clinical evidence. With a well-functioning internal setup and a digital strategy that is integrated into the company’s existing portfolio, the chances of a successful market entry with long-lasting impact are particularly high.”

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